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Bad Work History On Your Resume?

Having a bad work history or one that is “checkered” with multiple part-time or contract roles can make for landing a job interview all the more difficult.  The problem is, recruiters and hiring managers want to see a level of dependability when evaluating a potential candidate.  And though you may be a dependable person, your current resume may show otherwise.

Such occurrences aren’t uncommon.  However, understanding how to frame your resume in a way that will show off your dependability can land you an interview and an eventual job offer. 

Concerned About Employment Gaps?

We’re going to consider employment gaps as anything over a 6-month period.  Anything less than 6-months can be considered “job searching”.  If you’re asked by a recruiter or a hiring manager about this gap, simply let them know that you were in the process of finding new employment.

For anything over 6-months, the best advice concerning employment gaps is to be honest and upfront with the recruiter and hiring manager.  They will likely see the employment gap on your resume and will ask you about that time.

Being honest allows you to get ahead of the conversation.  You don’t want to be caught off-guard and addressing the gap allows you to take control of the conversation. 

Once you address the gap, you’ll need to show that you were active in self-improvement over this period of time.  Discuss how you have kept up to date on the industry, what classes you have taken, any volunteer experience you’ve acquired, and any business ventures you’ve attempted.

Don’t be afraid of discussing business ventures which may not have succeeded.  After all, a whopping 80% of new, small business fail each year.  Rather, discuss the business venture, its inception and what skills you learnt from it.

Concerned About Job Hopping and Short-Term Employment Dates?

Sometimes, a job may not be a great fit for you.  This can happen multiple times over a number of different jobs while you search for a perfect, or better, fit.  While leaving a job is a personal decision, it will lead to some questions during an interview.

With job hopping, you really have two options. 

The first, is to not include short stints of employment on your resume.  A job that you held for less than six-months or one that you didn’t gain any discernible skills in may not need to be included on your resume.

The second option is to bundle your work experience.  Let’s say you worked at Company ABC for 6-months and Company XYZ for 4-months.  Both positions were similar in responsibility.  Then you can list out the experience as:

Position – Company ABC, Company XYZ (01/18-11/18)

Lastly, you should directly address the short stints in employment in your cover letter.  Place a positive, optimistic spin on why you left and what skills you gained during your time at the company AND after leaving the company.

Discuss what you are looking for and how you are confident that you will find it at the company you are currently applying to.

Concerned About Layoffs and Firings?

Layoffs and firings throw a wrench in your career goals and next steps.  But they should be taken as opportunities, rather than points of failure.  Again, it is best to address the truth head-on and directly.

When it comes to layoffs, you should try to explain the circumstances that the company was going through and the need to downsize.  Explain how your role was affected and how the decision was made.  You can provide assurances to the recruiter and hiring manager by producing letters of recommendation which will help showcase your talents.

Firings need to be taken in a different approach.  You need to explain why the firing occurred and what you did to learn from it.  Show and explain how the situation occurred but do so professionally.  Never badmouth or speak ill of a former employer.  Rather, discuss how you have grown as an employee and how you have learnt from your previous experiences.

Conclusion – Accentuate the Positives

Recruiters and hiring managers are looking to fill open positions.  They are looking for someone dependable, knowledgeable, and someone who takes initiative.  Within your resume, you want to highlight the positives and your accomplishments.  You want to address any concerns via your cover letter, where you can be honest and show a level of maturity and growth.

When it does come time for interviewing, be cordial, professional, and confident.  Address any concerns head-on and discuss how you have evolved and transformed as an employee.  Prepare beforehand for the interview and be ready to answer any questions concerning bad work history, spotty employment dates, and layoffs or firings.

During the interview, address how you can be a problem-solver and a dependable employee.  Focus on the positive, both in terms of your abilities and your work history and do not dwell too long on any of the negative items.

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